Call & Response: vitaminsforyou

One of my favourite Harbourfront events is Beats, Breaks & Culture, a free festival that celebrates electronic and other rhythmic music, as well as all communities involved. Now in it's fourth year, it's a multi-stage festival by the lake, complete with film, art and dance.

Big names like The Cinematic Orchestra, Kieren Hebden (aka Four Tet) with Steve Reid, Shout Out Out Out Out, Cadence Weapon and The Russian Futurists are among the many highlights at this year's instalment.

One of the local highlights is a live set from electronic artist/producer/remixer/DJ Bryce Kushnier (aka vitaminsforyou). Bryce started making dreamy, electronic pop music back in his hometown of Winnipeg years ago and now calls Toronto, for better of for worse, his home. As my interesting talk with him revealed, living in our city is not easy at times for a left-of-center electronic artist.

Keep reading for the complete interview.

blogTO: You're playing at this year's Beats, Breaks and Culture festival. Will you be DJing or performing live? Were you able to choose or did the organizers specifically request a format of you?

vitaminsforyou: I will be playing a LIVE set with my good friend Marinko doing live visuals. It will be mostly be new material that I haven't played live in Canada yet, so I am really excited about seeing how it goes over.

What does it mean to you to be associated with one of the few festivals here in town that highlights the kind of music you make and spin?

I am happy to have been asked, in fact I am always flattered when I am asked to play, especially in Toronto.

You recently posted a great DJ mix on your Myspace page called Hometown Bringdown. Not the happiest of inspirations. Aside from the BB&C Festival, why do you find it frustrating being an electronic performer in Toronto right now?

uh oh...well, it's difficult doing what I do in Toronto, not everyone is familiar with what I do or how they are supposed to respond to the performance in a live setting (even though that sounds kind of silly, 'cause all I expect is people to have a good time). I really love Toronto and have some great friends here, but the city (like all cities I have lived in) has a complex, especially when it comes to scenes and having fun...which is kind of its charm for me...it never really wants to step up and say "hey fuck you, we don't care what you think, we are going to do this..."

The mix is kind of reference to that...to work your ass off so hard in a city, and have no one really care all that much about what you are doing. And then have some shitty electro outfit make it big on Myspace or whatever and blow-up in a city that seemed to not care in the first place.

I honestly don't think its the people, 'cause Toronto has one of the most supportive indie scenes I have ever been a part of...for all kinds of genres. Everyone plays shows with everyone...and there is very little hate going on. I think its just the city...like some kind of group mentality that takes over and posters everyone's minds with what they should think/do/wear.

who knows...Toronto keep proving me wrong. :D

You recently toured as part of Do Make Say Think in Europe. That schedule looked rough. How did it go and what were the highlights of that trip?

Yes, it was crazy...29 shows in 31 days, 6 countries in a van that sat 9 people...with 9 people on tour plus all the gear. All that, and the tour was amazing and a ton of fun. Highlights were probably two shows that were back to back...Milton Keynes, a small asshole of a town in England with literally nothing there. We played a small farmhouse community centre, probably our smallest show for about 50 super enthusiastic people and did our encore acoustically outside under the stars, it was amazing. And then the next night we were the last act to go on at the All Tomorrow's Parties Festival and played for 2000-3000 exhausted but rabid music lovers...which was probably the biggest audience I have ever played in front of. And Paris was a lot of fun as usual.

What are your favourite tracks right now?

Hmmm...I am listening to a lot of Jesu right now, Stop Die Resuscitate remixes, the new Montag album on Carpark, old Philip Jeck, mixes for the new Fritz Helder & The Phantoms new album (this fall!!!), Albert Ayler and the new Low album.

What are your plans for the rest of 2007?

Some remixes, a couple vitaminsforyou shows, some DMST touring, finishing a Fritz Helder & The Phantoms album and finishing a new vitaminsforyou album...and I am riding my bike to Montreal.

vitaminsforyou and John Kameel Farah
Lakeside Terrace (as part of Beats, Breaks and Culture at Harbourfront)
Friday, July 6 at 11pm

Call & Response is a weekly series of Q&A's with bands/artists from or playing in Toronto. Photo by Jamie Campbell

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